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Leisure, Popular Culture and



Mukerji and Schudson (1991: 3) define popular culture as a widely shared set of beliefs and practices that people use to organize certain objects, these objects also being part of that culture. This intentionally general definition (formulated to avoid terminological haggling) encompasses folk beliefs, practices, and objects generated in political and commercial centers. It also includes the handful of elite cultural forms that have, by a curious quirk of fate, managed to become popular. Popular culture includes, in its broadest scope, any cultural item that has achieved popularity, or that has developed a mass public. Given this definition, one might be tempted to say that leisure and popular culture are close to being identical if they are not in fact identical. Yet numerous popular artifacts and practices exist that are decidedly not leisurely, among them petrol, toothpaste, queuing, and paying income tax. Meanwhile, some activities people that do for leisure are hardly popular, including collecting rare paintings, climbing Mount Everest, raising snakes, and playing string quartets. The limited interest in bungee jumping and sadomasochistic pornography shows that even hedonic leisure occasionally fails to win mass appeal. And, finally, some popular culture is, for many people, disagreeable enough to be anything but leisure for them. That happens when, for example, they are unable ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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